Located on the New River and within a half-hour’s drive to the Atlantic Ocean, the city of Jacksonville is perfectly positioned for scenic views and fun on the water. Equally important, Jacksonville is also home to military heroes and charming outdoor pathways that showcase the city’s history and military heritage. When Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune was built in 1941, the training facility jumpstarted economic growth in Onslow County, transforming Jacksonville into a busy county seat and economic center with shopping and dining opportunities. Today, Jacksonville is bursting with life and growth, in no small part due to the activity at Camp Lejeune and a home-grown ethic for hard work. This 246-square mile training site includes 14 miles of beaches fronting the Atlantic Ocean, where visitors can sometimes glimpse the amphibious assault training taking place. In many ways, the Marine Corps’ traditions and daily efforts to secure our nation’s security are honored.
Jeff’s Burgers Dogs & Shakes
A local favorite in Jacksonville, Jeff’s Burgers Dogs & Shakes offers American classics and local seafood specials, like fresh clam chowder and flounder sandwiches. Order take-out for something...
Liliana’s Colombian Restaurant & Bakery
Stop by Liliana’s in Jacksonville for a taste of traditional Colombian cooking. Home-style menu items include tamales, arroz con pollo (rice and chicken) and vegetarian avacado salad. Try a traditional-style...
Bayonet Enterprises Cruises
Board this private yacht charter for a relaxing day on the water. Cruise along the New River and enjoy the sights of downtown Jacksonville and the surrounding wildlife. Choose from a champagne brunch,...
Throughout Jacksonville, walking trails, playgrounds and picnic pavilions at local parks lend themselves to family fun in the great outdoors. At Lejeune Memorial Gardens, a pathway winds past a series of monuments that pay tribute to the Marine Corps’ heritage. The Beirut Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Montford Point Marine Memorial, and the 9/11 Memorial Beam provide a quiet place to reflect on the ones being honored for sacrifices they made in the name of freedom. Jacksonville is also home to the USO of North Carolina, the oldest continuously running USO in the world. Tucked away near Jacksonville Landing, which serves as a boat launch onto the New River, the USO has remained a haven for the military and their families for more than 75 years. Inside the white clapboard building, a wall of old-fashioned telephone booths -- where Marines used to wait their turn to call their families -- remind visitors of what life might have looked like back in 1942 when the USO opened its doors.
Nearby, Riverwalk Park connects downtown to the New River waterfront. Part of ongoing downtown revitalization, the park boasts brick paths, benches and a covered pavilion where local bands take the stage during festivals throughout the year. When the hot temperatures of summer cool down in the fall, Riverwalk Park is filled with arts and crafts, a children’s activity area and, of course, bratwurst and beer, during Onslow Oktoberfest. In December, Riverwalk Park turns into a winter wonderland with sledding, ice skating, and snowball fights during Jacksonville Winterfest.
With so many people from all corners of the world making Jacksonville their home, the culinary scene is uniquely eclectic. Restaurant owners bring family recipes and tastes from their individual regions and showcase them in a wide variety of cuisines. From authentic Caribbean to Columbian to Mediterranean, diners can enjoy a smorgasbord of flavors. For a downhome fix of Southern cooking, locals know the Kettle Diner is the place to go on Friday for fresh-off-the-boat shrimp. When a burger and a river view is in order, they head to the Marina Café and sometimes order a sunset cruise for dessert.
For outdoor fun, the Jacksonville Landing in downtown Jacksonville offer boat and kayak launches as well as boardwalks and piers for fishing in the New River. The landing sites include boat ramps, docks, and parking. Both seasoned anglers and those looking for a family adventure can turn to experienced guides, like those at Fishbones Inshore Fishing Charters, for a day on the water.
For on-land – and definitely noisier – excitement, head to the Coastal Plains Raceway, an IHRA sanctioned drag-racing facility where a full slate of races and other events keep motors revving all year. Families enjoy the interactive, hands-on fun at Zing Zumm Children’s Museum in downtown Jacksonville, as well as other indoor playgrounds and art studios. For outdoor family fun, the New River waterfront is the backdrop for traditional playground equipment, picnic spots and boardwalk trails over the water at Wilson Bay Park and Sturgeon City Park.